Chemical and Digital Photographer

Wet Plate

The Wet-plate collodion process dates from the 1851. It requires the photographic plate – either glass or aluminium – to be coated with a gelatine like substance then made light sensitive by bathing the plate in silver salts. Once the plate has been sensitised, the photographer then has about ten to fifteen minutes to expose and develop the plate before it dries out.

The development takes place under a red-light and takes about fifteen seconds to produce something unique and full of charachter.

As the world expanded and photographers wanted to capture the world around us, one of their biggest issues was portability. The equipment was big and they used Glass for their photographic plates, which are easily broken. An American invented a process where instead of using glass, sheets of black enamelled tin could be used and instead of making a glass negative, a positive image could be made onto black tin.

And the tin-type (or ambrotype) was born.

I thought this process was forgotten in history but I noticed a few years ago that some photographers were starting to use this process again – which sparked my interest. The whole process intrigues me – from making my own plates, to coating the plates with chemicals and making an exposure for which there isn’t any guide or any meter. You have to just work it out in your head.

So, I thought I would give it a go.  Its an ongoing project for me, so over time, this gallery will evolve and expand.